The HOA Principality

A few years ago I made the comparison that HOAs were a modern version of the independent city-states of ancient Greece and medieval times. I was wrong. I was wrong because these city-states had no higher-level government, no king or emperor, to whom they were answerable. That’s why they were independent city-states.

The more accurate comparison would be to principalities that exist in small numbers today in Europe; such as, the Principality of Monaco. They exist within the boundaries of a larger political body, the country or nation, and are essentially self-governing with their own laws. They are governed by an almost absolute ruler, the Prince. They are protected, a “protectorate” you might say, by their surrounding nations and exist by this “higher” government choosing to honor the principality in accordance with its laws.

Today, in the United States of America, the federal and state political bodies have issued “charters” to private individuals, granting them the status equivalent to a principality, much as the kings and emperors of the 16th – 18th centuries handed out charters to loyal followers. These modern charters are known as homeowners associations and are issued without requiring a republican form of government or subjecting all of its citizen-members to the privileges and immunities that apply to all citizens of the US.

If you follow the arguments of the longtime promoter of HOAs, the Community Associations Institute, CAI, you will find that its justification for this state of affairs and private government does not address the US or state constitutions, but the lesser laws of the land, the real estate common laws of servitudes. These opposing views is quite apparent when you follow the arguments by the Frank Askin of the Rutgers Constitutional Law Clinic and CAI in the Twin Rivers New Jersey case on HOA constitutionality questions.

I am not arguing against the right for communities to set their own special ordinances and special taxes for community amenities, but for the guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all people. If we are to remain true to that contract between the federal and state governments, embodied in their respective constitutions, then the era of the HOA principality must come to a swift and decisive end.

See CAI’s Amicus Brief

Published in: on January 16, 2005 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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